I visited your grave today. There was no gravestone, only flowers. I wanted to see your name on the off chance it would give me some kind of closure. I know the more likely scenario is that I’d see it and I’d be hit hard with the reality of your absence. I’d buckle to my knees, sob hot tears onto the grass. But as it was, I simply sat there amid the flowers and imagined you were somewhere else entirely. I wanted to feel close to you but today it was more comforting imagining that you were very far away.
Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary, and I’m no closer to understanding any of this than I was then. And yes, I still reach for my phone to call you, and I check to see if you’re online, and I feel a pit in my stomach because I think, “It’s been too long since I’ve seen Roxy,” and then I remember and the pit deepens and threatens to swallow me whole. At times I feel like I’ve been grieving you forever. Other moments it’s like you never left.
There’s so much I want to tell you, and I wish all of it were good. I wish I could say that things were better than ever, that I had found a way to not be lonely or, even better, that I had learned how to let someone else in. I wish I could tell you I had gotten myself into shape or that I had decided to love myself as I am. It’s terrible to know that I’m incomplete, because that means you never got to see me whole. Not that it’s about me at all, really, but so much of my self-worth was tied into showing you how far I’d come, even knowing I had a ways to go.
On the way to the cemetery, I drove past my high school. My 10-year reunion is fast approaching, and I can’t count all the reasons I’m not going, but today I remembered how spending time with you was my respite from all that. I don’t want to go back to high school because, even now, with a job and a life and a place of my own, I can’t survive high school without you. I don’t even want to try.
Most days I’m fine. “I’m fine” becomes a mantra in its meaninglessness. But I know you, more than anyone else in my life, could understand the value of being “just OK,” that sometimes leaving the house is its own tiny victory, and not letting dread consume you is an ongoing battle. I know you wouldn’t judge me when the darkness takes over, but I still want to be better because I know that’s what you would want for me. And I want to make you proud the way that you made me proud.
I want to write a book just so I can dedicate it to you.
Usually when I write about my grief, I hope that it serves a purpose past my own self-indulgence. But sometimes I just need to document it all. Like today, I visited your grave and I didn’t know what to bring, so I didn’t bring anything. And I’m leaving you this instead.